Born in California and raised in Kent, Lieu Hoang nearly succumbed to the gravitational pull of University of Washington's Foster School of Business before logging a single minute of professional kitchen experience.
“It was kind of a trend back then for everybody at UW to join the business school,” Hoang says of her college years. “But when you’re really itching to do something else like cook you can’t just sit in a big lecture hall.”
So instead Hoang found her way into the lecture kitchens at Seattle Central Community College’s Culinary Academy and her first cooking job at Ballard’s Shiku Sushi. She quickly upgraded to Poppy, then Lark, and most recently to the sous chef position at Ballard's Brimmer and Heeltap.
While her culinary skills are garnering some attention, Hoang doesn’t think her professional progress will take her anywhere but here.
“For a long time I wanted to move to Spain and live the Spanish lifestyle,” Hoang says. “But now that I’m back in Seattle I think I am here for good.”
Here are a few of Lieu Hoang’s favorite things, besides Seattle itself.
Dish to make at home: A pot of soup. Any type of soup. Cooking with Joe Ritchie, my fiancé, and making a pot of soup to last a few days is pretty satisfying.
Dish to impress guests: Currently, lamb and beef that I helped slaughter on my sister-in-law’s farm. When using ingredients like this they have extra meaning and a greater sense of what it actually takes to provide food.
Item on the Brimmer and Heeltap menu: The seasonal seafood. I'm always in charge of it and so it allows me to be creative, use what's fresh, and bring my thoughts and ideas to fruition.
Secret ingredient: Garlic and fish sauce. Those are my staples. More recently, berebere—an Ethiopian spice. I hate to share because everyone will start using it.
Breakfast dish: Eggs. I love it and hate it. I have eggs for breakfast almost everyday and I can utilize them in so many ways, but one can always get tired of a favorite.
Lunch spot: Saigon Deli. A Vietnamese iced coffee and a rice plate
People I'd like to cook with: I would like to have the opportunity to cook with both my grandmothers. To be able to witness what they fed my parents would be a neat look into what different generations are able to eat and how food is passed down.
Place to eat on a day off: At home, on my rooftop deck, or my mom and dad's house. But who can refuse a fancy meal out?
Recently splurged on: A $200 trash can. I felt really strange forking up that cash, but man it's a pretty sleek looking trash can. I guess you can say it’s a display trash can.
The crowds in Ballard are... Gregarious. Engaging. More often than not Seattleites tend to look away and not smile at one another but I find people on Market Street and around the neighborhood actually want to wish each other a good day.